The Oakland Tribune has reported that the Port of Oakland Commissioners have unanimously approved a lawsuit settlement that could free up a potential site for a waterfront ballpark for the Oakland Athletics.
The agreement ends shipping activity at Howard Terminal, which is located right next door to Jack London Square. Team owner Lew Wolff has repeatedly dismissed the idea of a new stadium in Oakland, but both MLB and local business leaders have identified Howard Terminal as the most viable ballpark site within the city.
The 50-acre Howard Terminal had previously been occupied by SSA Terminals, but SSA has agreed to end its lease early. SSA will move into a couple of nearby terminals with the ultimate endgame of creating a single super terminal.
So, it seems as though the Athletics might be one tiny step closer to a new home on the water. Of course, not everybody is pleased with the deal. Several unions have griped that the deal will cost workers jobs, and dozens of longshoremen have organized in the Port to protest the deal.
The unions should not be underestimated, but the biggest opposition will come from Ports America. Along with SSA, Ports America is the big player within the Port. The operator has already threatened to sue the Port if the SSA deal is, in fact, approved. The settlement will become official later this month when the seven-member Board of Port Commissioners votes on the matter.
Ports America claims that the SSA settlement will distort competition between the two biggest operators within the Port because it will allow SSA to undercut its competitors.
I say bring it on, Ports America. Perhaps this deal could have been arrived at in a way that was slightly more equitable to all parties, but that doesn’t change the fact that Howard Terminal is an absolutely perfect site for the Athletics new waterfront home.
Howard Terminal is right next to the renowned Jack London Square with its world-class restaurants and extensive shopping options. There are two major freeways that run right past the Terminal and the BART train stops just over a mile away. Oh, and there’s even a ferry. So, the neighborhood, shopping and transportation infrastructure are all there.
Plus, the project is in the very capable hands of Oakland Mayor Jean Quan. Last week, in an interview with Ric Bucher and Chris Townsend on 95.7 The Game, the mayor commented:
“Oakland is on the rise.”
Ms. Quan is right. As she noted, the city has added 60 new restaurants and one million square feet of retail space in the last year.
Last January, even the New York Times took notice. The Times named Oakland as the #5 destination on its list of “The 45 Places to Go in 2012.” As in, like, everywhere. Oakland was wedged right between London and Tokyo.
The mayor added:
“I don’t know if anything can stop Oakland right now.”